Wine Fest in Moldova

So, there’s this great event every year in the capital, and last year I missed it because I was sick.  This year, however, I wasn’t missing wine fest for the world.

Basically, a whole bunch of wineries in Moldova line up as part of an exhibition and let you taste their wine.  They’re trying to sell bottles, so there is a purpose, and it’s great because we get to sample a variety of amazing Moldovan wine.

At one end of the festival, there’s a big food tent with grilled meat to purchase.  At the other, the entrance, local artisans come out and line their tables up in hopes of making a few sales.  I may have given them some business in my pursuit of Moldovan souvenirs.

We also bought a few bottles of great Moldovan wine.  Saving them for special occasions.  Fun fact: did you know the largest wine cellar in the world is actually in Moldova?  Just a hop, skip and jump away from where I live…

Here’s some photos and video of our afternoon at Wine Fest.  You’ll notice my roommate got pulled into a mean rendition of the “hora,” which, as I explained earlier in my blog, is a traditional Moldovan dance.  After that, people just broke out dancing everywhere.  The wine…may have been a contributing factor in that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

International Roma Day: celebrating the intrinsic value of humans

Yesterday, I went into the capital with a friend of mine, and fellow volunteer, to see a flash mob in support of International Roma Day.  My friend, Andrea, heard there would be a flash mob in front of the mayor’s office around 1 p.m.  Well, we met up with a few other volunteers at about 12:45 p.m. and waited to see what happened.  Truth be told, we weren’t sure what to expect.  And the street in front of the mayor’s office was pretty empty.  So we wandered up and down the street trying to identify anyone that might be involved in a flash mob.  The hour of 1 p.m. came and went.  Then we saw it.  A lone, colorful, skirt.  A woman with a jacket over a very colorful dress.  Then two more.  Opa, something’s happening here!  We got excited.

What is Roma, you ask?

Roma refers to popluations throughout Europe that orginated in India and immigrated west.  They might more commonly be known as “gypsies” among Americans, but the correct term is “Roma” or “Romani.”  They were one of the racial groups targeted by the Nazis during World War II.

But this is a population that still faces discrimination in Europe today.  Here in Moldova they are often referred to in derogatory terms, or commonly called “thieves” or “dirty.”  Volunteers from Peace Corps Moldova have actually created a group called Rise to help volunteers conduct seminars on tolerance and address Roma issues specifically in their communities.

I cannot help but equate this to existing attitudes in the United States toward various minority groups, especially attitudes toward the Latino community in Arizona.  Let us never that we do not choose what country we are born in, or what family we are born into.  Let us never forget that, at the end of the day, we are all human beings, all children of God (I believe), we all have intrinsic value, and we are all just trying to survive in today’s chaotic, flawed world.

Check out pictures/video from the event below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am certainly no expert on Roma issues, but if you’d like to read more about it, I would encourage you to do so.  I’ve included some interesting articles below:

Quality [host] sister time

When I’m in Ialoveni, I sure do miss my host sisters from training.  They’re around the same ages as my sisters back in the States.  There’s nothing quite like a bond between sisters, and I feel so fortunate that I get to have two sisters here, and two back in the States.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That said, while I’m in Ialoveni, I do get to chat with them on Skype and Facebook.  We send messages back and forth, and the week before last, I was doing just that with my host sister Marina.  We were just talking about how things were going, work, school, boys, the usual, and then we stumbled into the topic of her dad’s birthday, which is coming up.  I told her that I didn’t know what to get him for his birthday.  She agreed, dads are the hardest to buy for.  Then I had idea – what about shoes for a ballerina?  (This is a long story, but basically, it involves the video-taping of one dancing host father after a few drinks, which my host family showed me during my last visit.  Needless to say, there was a LOT of laughter.  And some pretty impressive leg work.)  But Marina loved the idea of getting ballet shoes, and so we made plans to meet up at the central market (piața) that Saturday. 

My host mom was concerned that ballet shoes might be a little too expensive, so Marina took me to a gift store.  This store was, quite literally, a “gift” store.  It has a big plastic present over the doorway and sells a collection of items you might give to people as gifts.  so we went in and sifted through the merchandise.  I found an extensive toy doctor kit for my little host nieces in Ialoveni, and some sweet tools for the grill for my host dad.  (Over the summer, we had some great grilled meat and grilled vegetables, courtesy of my host dad, so I thought it was a good gift.)  As a bonus, I also got to my other host sister, Nadejda, who was in the city getting a Valentine’s Day gift for her boyfriend. 

All set with gifts in hand, I asked my host sister Marina where I could go to get pictures printed.  We walked around the piața area, and stopped into a place where I gave them my flash drive, they dropped the pictures onto their desktop, returned my flash drive and told me to come back in an hour. 

 With an hour to kill, Marina and I needed something to do.  I needed some  baking pans for cake and brownies and such (see picture below), so we headed into the piața, where I found two great pans and picked up some bananas.  We still had a bit of time left, so we decided to look for somewhere we could sit down (inside, out of the cold) and have coffee.  We chatted for awhile over our hot drinks, and then we left to pick up the pictures and parted ways.  It was delightful.  A great Saturday afternoon.